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moving to a new home packing boxes

Are You moving to a new home? Are you wondering how to organize yourself, your things, and your family for a move? Moving can be a daunting prospect particularly if you’ve lived in your current home for a number of years. People often ask how to get organized for a move. They want to know what to do first.

The idea of moving to a new home is exciting and may also be a bit unsettling. Afterall, you’re leaving the familiar and moving somewhere new.

Here are my tips on how to organize for a move.

Create a timeline and a Checklist

When do you have to be out of your current house? When can you move into your new house? Put those dates in your calendar.

I like to print out a paper monthly calendar and keep it in a binder along with some loose-leaf paper for notes.

Organize for a move and note which movers you called and their estimates.

You can also keep track of emails and phone calls in this binder.  

Establish a timeline. Create a schedule for going through each room and packing up your belongings. Depending on how much time you have breaking this task down by scheduling a room a week is easier than trying to pack your entire home over the course of a weekend.

Everything gets packed or does it?

Open every drawer, cupboard, and closet and sort the contents. You do not want to pack anything that you won’t be happy to unpack.

Remember that ugly picture frame someone gave you that you stuffed at the back of the top shelf in your closet? It’s time to either sell it (someone may love it!) or donate it.

Ask yourself: Do I love this? Do I use this? Do I believe this to be beautiful? Answer ‘Yes’ to any one of those questions and keep the item. Answer ‘No’ to any one of those questions and it’s time to remove the item in question from your home.

Go through all your clothes. Honestly assess them. Are there clothes that are too big or small? Will you ever be that size again? Do you want to move these clothes with the hope that one day you can wear them? Someone else will love to have them.

Are you thinking of replacing your coat? Donate it now rather than packing it.

Do those shoes kill your feet after 15 minutes? Save yourself the trouble of packing them and let someone else have pinched toes.


Organize your furniture for a move and sketch out the layout of the rooms in your new home. Decide where you will put the furniture you currently own. If you are moving to a smaller home, donate or sell anything that will not fit in your new space.

Resist the urge to go out and buy furniture until after you move into your new home, unless you are replacing a critical piece of furniture like your bed.

Attach notes to the pieces of furniture with the name of the room in which it will be placed unless it is obvious. The dining table and chairs go in the dining room, but a chest of drawers can also go in the dining room.

Labeling the furniture this way eliminates lots of questions.

Buy your supplies

Here’s a list of supplies:

Boxes, packing paper, bubble wrap, tape (lots and lots of tape), thick tipped marking pens.

In general, it’s easier to lift the smaller book boxes. The larger boxes are cumbersome and become very heavy very quickly.

U-Haul has boxes which have dividers for glasses. They also sell cushioned sleeves for glasses and plates which saves time wrapping each item in paper. These boxes are a little more expensive, but they are a HUGE time and paper saver.

Create a general inventory of what’s in each box. Label the outside of each box with the name of the room; for example: kitchen (glasses), Kitchen (pots and pans), Kitchen (cookbooks).

On your moving day put a large, colorful Post-It at the entry to each room with the name of the room. This will help movers or anyone helping you know which room is which. This is particularly helpful if one of the rooms is for your child or if one of the bedrooms is going to be the office. Then boxes designated for the office will get there as will boxes of toys for your child.

Contact Utilities

Make a list of utility companies to contact. Remember you are not only cancelling utilities at your current location; you are also setting up service at your new location.

Pack Essential Files

Organize your files for a move and create a separate box of files for your vital documents. Put all financial information and personal information like your passport, marriage license, credit cards etc. into this box. Here is a link to a list of vital documents. 

Archival files, memorabilia files and general information files can be put into bankers’ boxes and moved along with the furniture.

Whether you are moving yourself or hiring movers, put this box of files aside and move it with your valuables like your jewelry.

Open first boxes and Bags

Moving is an all-day exhausting process. Organize yourself for a move and create a couple of bags and boxes to open first. Put the things you need to make up the bed or beds in the bag or box. Include towels, toiletries, and a change of clothes.

Have a duffle bag for each person so that everyone will have the things they need for at least one or two days.

This will help create a smooth transition into the new home and make for an easier first night.

Moving is never easy but can be less stressful when you create a moving timeline and take steps to be as organized as possible before you move.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane specializes in residential and home-office organizing and working with people affected by ADD, hoarding challenges, and chronic disorganization. Please contact Diane for a free 15-minute phone consultation. 


  • Great article! People who move don’t think of all the details you’ve listed until they move and then can’t find the important things. When I moved across the country (some 2150 miles) I built a moving book with all the details and research on the new location as well as a list of all the items that I packed. I couldn’t have done the move without that planning.

  • I love the “open me first” box idea. Nobody wants to search for the toilet paper!

  • LISA GESSERT says:

    Excellent! I am in the process of a move myself! Happy to see i am doing things right..LOL Great blog great information!

  • Seana Turner says:

    Moving is just such an exhausting endeavor. Wonderful advice here. Decluttering ahead of time not only saves you effort on the back end, it also saves you money. Still, I have found that most people end up moving a few things they decide later that they don’t want, so this is fine. Set up a donations bin as soon as you get to your new location:)

    • Diane Quintana says:

      I agree. It’s inevitable. Somethings get packed that we realize we don’t want when are moved in to the new place. Setting up a donation bin right away is a terrific suggestion.

  • Great tips! Moving is so stressful and there are so many steps. Setting up for a move was my main task with my downsizing clients when I was doing residential organizing. I started creating a box tracking list where I labeled the box a number and had a sheet on a clipboard with the details of the content. It worked well for people who were moving later in the future. It would allow them to remember if they needed anything before moving the box.

  • Melanie says:

    My in-laws are starting this process after selling my husband’s childhood home. It’s exciting but it’s going to be an undertaking! I’ll save this and share with them. Thank you